Dharma – Revitalisation of ex-industrial complex

 In Solutions


The word ‘Dharma’ means the relation between a human and nature in which a human protects nature and nature protects the human. It is one of the oldest definitions of sustainable development.

With a holistic approach to tourism, Hostel Dharma promotes a healthy way of living.

The term ‘Cultural Hall’ is a syntagmatic term that in this case highlights the revitalization of a former abandoned industrial space with new contemporary cultural contents. Through various scientific exhibitions and workshops, the Cultural Hall facilitates education and sharing the idea of sustainable development and healthy environment.
Hostel Dharma and Yoga in Daily Life Cultural Hall are partners in a project of urban, architectural and social implications. The result is a new type of business where profit and non-profit features are being intertwined together in entrepreneurial activities lead by creativity and sustainable growth.
Hostel Dharma and Yoga in Daily Life Cultural Hall represent a unique combination, and they are members of The WHO European Healthy Cities Network.

The starting and leading point of this project has been a change in the local administration policies when our site was added to the list of industrial reconversion prone areas due to its tourist potential, as highlighted in the General Urban Plan of the City of Rijeka.

A trend of de-industrializing of the cities exists in Europe and worldwide for several decades already. This shift has enabled new businesses and service providers to obtain partly used or unused facilities and spaces that have been reached by the expansion of city centres. Industrial plants had to find new and more strategically appropriate locations in the suburbs.

This project transformed the former “Plumbum – Vulkan” factory building into a Cultural Hall and a hostel.
The site has a strategically significant position; it is placed in the most prominent spot at the Eastern entrance of the city, overlooking the running shipyard “Viktor Lenac” on one side ( an echo of the bright industrial period) and one of the most beautiful city beaches on the other side.

Hostel Dharma has it’s own solar heating system, solar collectors for producing electricity for own purpose. It is sustainable from aspect of energy use.

While following the principles of sustainable development, the biggest challenge was to find a simple and feasible solution to ensure a healthy and peaceful environment to all stakeholders. That still active industrial complex needs to be preserved but it is also becoming a part of the project’s character itself.

“Be like a honeybee” in sustainable development in tourism

The environment of Hostel Dharma has completely changed during the past years. In the beginning, there was just polluted industrial soil without life. More than 100 huge truck of new soil replaced tonnes of industrial waste, and the planting of hundreds of trees, bush, flowers and grass started. With new fertile soil and plants, also came many different animal species like earthworms, snails, hogs, turtles, lizards and butterflies. Nowadays, many kinds of birds sing in trees of the hostel’s garden every morning.
After exactly a hundred years honeybees returned to this area, and one can see many of them flying from the sage and lavender to the rosemary and flowers on the meadow, performing their daily work. They are a synonym and prerequisite for the balance in nature that has existed for the last 150 million years on the planet.
Today we can say that this positive change was made possible by visitors and tourists. This project is a positive example how tourism can transform a space that was extremely polluted and abounded into an oasis of life for vegetation, animals and humans.
From our experience, tourists in a hostel type accommodation look for a different kind of life quality because their interests go beyond the comfort of their accommodation. They like to spend time outside, visiting museums and exploring the local traditions and culture. They don’t want to isolate themselves in a far-away resort, but they prefer to integrate into the life of the city. They are like honeybees, flying to the flower of the local culture and society and collecting their impressions which will become nectar of their experience and knowledge.
In Hostel Dharma we have had visitors from more than 108 countries, and we are happy that we could offer rest and hospitality to all of them.
Their presence contributed to this process of revitalization and influenced local authorities to increase their awareness about such ecological, social and urbanistic issues. Positive guest reviews and high ratings from acknowledged tourist guides like Lonely Planet motivate us to continue our work.
The European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) nominated Hostel Dharma as one of The Ten best European projects of the revitalisation of an ex-industrial area into tourist and cultural facility, in the International Conference in Riga, Latvia in 2015, where we received an award.
City of Rijeka like ‘Port od Diversity’ was elected last year for the European Capital of Culture for year 2020.
Republic of Croatia supports sustainable tourism and the awareness that we all are just travellers could help a bit.

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